We’ve all heard of the wisdom of crowds – how if you get 5,000 people guessing the number of sweets in a jar the average is likely to be pretty accurate. But what if you aren’t trying to be average at all? What if you need to constantly be innovating to just survive, let alone win?
With the latest CEB business barometer results showing executives downgrading their growth estimates and expecting headcount to drop winning is tougher than ever.
So it’s no surprise that in IBM’s survey of over 1,000 CEOs the most important leadership competency for this millennium is creativity – people that break from the herd and come up with a different solution to a challenge. Basically we want a bit of what Richard Branson has got.
The challenge according to many a psychologist is that humans are programmed for conformity. Our brains shortcut precious thinking time and go along with the crowd. So how can we try and bolster creativity, agility and smarter problem-solving in our organizations??
Here are 3 pointers that will help you bolster creativity across your organization (and make your CEO happy):
- Take off the blinkers. Facilitate peer to peer communication, idea sharing and even just informal socializing to expose employees to as many different perspectives as possible. See how MITRE have built a peer learning platform that makes it easy to find and learn from relevant people and content.
- Give permission to think. Managers and leaders can have a big influence on their employees confidence to put their ideas out there and flex their creative muscle. See how L’Oreal developed simple support and guidance to help managers adopt a more empowering approach
- Set guardrails for contributions. Too much space to be creative is actually intimidating – think about the pin dropping when you ask for questions in a townhall. See how ConAgra provided just enough information and guidance to help employees contribute in a meaningful way to solve problems.
You can also look at who you are hiring –there are tell tale signs of creativity and someone that will think outside the box for new solutions: Pay attention to past experiences, hobbies, and work. Look for things that have forced people to train their brain to look at things differently and work from new angles.